A Nutcracker Production

Important A/N: I'm alive! I know it's been quite a while since I've updated, and I apologize. There's an important (and really long) note at the bottom of this chapter for anyone still interested in this story.


Last Time:

'Am I having a heart attack or something?' He thought worriedly.

Now:

Yugi gave a shout of joy as he walked off the high school grounds for the last time. Summer break officially started the next day, but since there was no school tomorrow, technically – according to the students, anyway – it started as soon as they got off school grounds. Yugi's smile dimmed a bit as Yami's hurt expression flashed through his mind's eye. Yugi quickened his pace, wanting to reach his grandpa's store so he could keep his thoughts away from his older co-worker. 'What did I do? Did I say something that hurt him? I can't think of anything…' Yugi sighed as he tried to think of anything he could have said or done – or not said or done – that could have hurt Yami, but again, came up blank. 'It hurts… Why does it hurt to see that expression; to think that I've done something to hurt him? I mean, I don't exactly want anyone to hurt, but… It physically aches when I think I did something to hurt him. Why?'

A bell rang as he opened the door to his gramps' shop, snapping him out of his thoughts. "I'm home, gramps!" He called out cheerfully. "Yugi! Had a good day at school?" Solomon asked him from behind the counter. "Yep! I'm so glad it's summer break! I'll be back down in a minute. Just gonna put my bag up and change." Yugi bounded up the stairs with a smile. Throwing his backpack on the bed, Yugi quickly stripped out of his school uniform and put on jeans and a blue button down shirt before taking the stairs two at a time. "Can you check what's on the shelves, Yugi? We had quite a few customers come in, and I want to make sure we still have some of everything out for any others." Solomon asked. Yugi nodded and grinned as he went to take inventory, making sure they had several of each items out and ready for purchase. An hour – and four trips to the back to get more games to stock the shelves – later, and Yugi reassured Solomon that everything was in order.

"Thanks Yugi. I really appreciate your help." The elder Mutou smiled at Yugi as he handed the boy ten dollars(1) for his work. "You're welcome, gramps! Is there anything else you need, before I head out?" The tri-color haired teen asked, putting the cash in his wallet. Solomon always paid Yugi for his work in the shop, seeing as he didn't pay Yugi to do his chores, or to keep good grades. Those things were expected of Yugi, without any monetary rewards. "No, Yugi. It's fine. Go ahead and go to practice. Be careful, and let me know when you're on your way back!" The elder called out, seeing as Yugi was practically out the door already. "Will do!" Yugi called back.

Yugi hurried to the Theater for practice, grinning as Ryou met him by the door and led him to one of those gorgeous practice rooms that he loved. Several hours later, Yugi was drenched in sweat from practice, but nearly glowing with the feeling of accomplishment. As he and Ryou walked into the break room for a drink, Yugi noticed Marik, Bakura, and Yami standing around the coffee maker. The younger of the two teens went to the vending machines for a Pepsi, while Ryou walked over to give Bakura a quick kiss – well, it would have been quick if Bakura hadn't caught him and given him a 'proper' kiss, as he says. Ryou then proceeded to drag Bakura – who dragged Marik, who grabbed Yami – to the same table that Yugi was sitting at, and sat down, continuing the conversation that the two youngest members had been having on the way there. About an hour later, Malik and Mokuba joined, making a quiet conversation much livelier.

After two hours, Yugi noticed that it was nearly dark, and said that he had to go home before his grandpa worried about him. Marik, Mokuba and Ryou gave a token protest – understanding that it was late, and that Yugi did need to go home before it was completely dark – before insisting that someone walk him home, because it was getting dark. Yugi protested, but Bakura waved it away. "Relax, shrimp. It's not a bother. Or rather, it's not as much of a bother as having to find a new Claire because you got your ass mugged by going home alone at night." That was Bakura's way of saying, "Relax. It's no bother, and we worry about you. Better someone walk you home then you get hurt," – according to Ryou, anyway. With a sigh, Yugi agreed to let someone walk him home, and Malik volunteered with a grin, his eyes flashing with mischievousness before it was gone. In the end, Malik and Marik both walked Yugi home, – Malik because he was a good friend and had his own reasons, and Marik because he was walking Malik back – while Yami and Ryou stayed to get some practice in, and Bakura stayed to ogle – erm, give constructive criticism to – his boyfriend. Yugi waved goodbye to the other two at the door to the shop, and entered, locking the door behind him.

The next day, Yugi helped out at the shop all morning, and went to the Theater in the afternoon. He spent part of the afternoon practicing with Malik, and the other part practicing alone. After practice, he met up with Mokuba, Jou, Seto, Ryou, Bakura, Malik, Marik, and Yami in the break room for a few hours as they discussed the play, what they were doing for summer break, and new books read or movies seen. Yugi left while it was still light out – barely – so he wouldn't have to be walked home. The next two days followed a similar pattern, the only thing changing was who he practiced with, or – sometimes – who met up in the break room after practice. As Sunday was one of the game shop's busiest days, Yugi had told everyone that he wouldn't make it to practice on those days, but as he came every other day, and worked hard, the director – or directors, as Isis, Ishizu, and Shaadi pretty much worked as one unit – were very understanding about it. So it was that at ten am that Sunday Yugi was working behind the counter when Mokuba, Seto, Jou, Ryou, Bakura, Malik, Marik, and Yami walked in.

"Welcome to Kame Game Shop, how may I help you?" Yugi asked cheerfully as he looked up. When he caught sight of the customers, though, he was shocked. "Oh! H-hey guys. Is something wrong?" He asked in confusion. Ryou assured him that nothing was wrong, as Jou looked around in fascination. "Wow!" He exclaimed. "This place hasn't changed much, has it, Yug'?" The blonde looked at his friend with a grin. Yugi giggled and replied, "It's mostly the merchandise that's changed. Although, we did redo the paint since the last time you were here." When Jou looked at the walls and pronounced them the same, Yugi responded with a grin, "I said we redid them. Not that we changed the paint color, Jou." The blonde blushed with a pout, and Yugi noticed that Seto seemed very interested in the games behind Jou, if the way he was staring was any indication. 'Yeah, it's the games that he's interested in.' Yugi thought with a mental grin.

"So, was there something I could help you with?" Yugi asked them as Solomon came down the stairs. Since the rush usually started around eleven or twelve, Solomon slept in a bit on Sundays, while Yugi manned the early morning hours on Sunday. It took both of them to keep up with the customers on Sunday afternoons. "Well, we had just wondered if we could hang out while you worked. If it's not too much trouble." Ryou answered. "We'd be glad to help, or just stay out of the way. Or if you need us to leave, we can." Yugi felt a rush of pleasure that they wanted to hang out outside of practice, and looked to his grandfather for an answer. Solomon looked at Jou, then studied the others, before taking in Yugi's sparkling amethyst eyes and answered with a gentle smile, "I don't see why not. Just be aware that Yugi has to work, and if you could make sure not to disturb the customers, or keep him from working, I'd be grateful." The boys all promised, Jou and Mokuba the most enthusiastic, Malik and Ryou politely, while the others just nodded, the warnings to be polite by Malik and Ryou ringing in their heads.

For the next hour and a half, Yugi was able to sit and talk with them, only having to get up and work a few times for a few short minutes. Around eleven-thirty, though, the Sunday rush started, and the others watched in a state of almost awe as Yugi and Solomon – mostly Yugi, though, as he was their friend – navigated the almost sea of customers with a professional ease. Both of them greeted all the customers with a smile and a cheerful hello, and Yugi helped find the toys they wanted. They watched with amazement as Yugi greeted some customers – they had to be regulars – by name, asking about one family member or another, and seemed to listen with genuine interest or concern as they spoke of their family. Not once did he – or Solomon, for that matter, but the teens and early twenty-something's were more focused on Yugi – frown, or get frustrated with a customer.

For the next four and a half hours, they watched as Yugi was up and about, helping customers, restocking the shelves, and occasionally, searching the back for a toy or game that they had run out of on the shelves for a customer. If they had any doubt that Yugi was a good person, that doubt was washed away as he – quite happily – helped each and every one of their customers, making sure that they were not only satisfied, but happy with their new toy, or game, and the service. Towards the dinner hour, things started to slow down as people were home making or eating dinner, and so Yugi was once again able to sit and speak with them for more than a few minutes.

Then, at about four-thirty, a young girl in a pink dress with a little white purse hanging off her shoulder walked in and started looking around. "Can I help you?" Yugi asked the girl with a smile. The little brunette girl – she couldn't have been more than eight or nine – nodded shyly. "I'm looking for a dollie… She has pretty blonde hair, and wears a pretty dress… and has a tye-ar-uh." She specified, carefully pronouncing – or mispronouncing, as it were – what was obviously a new word. Yugi gave a soft smile to the girl and patted her head. "Why don't I take you to the dollies, and we can see if the one you want is there, okay?" He offered gently. The girl nodded and took the hand he offered, and the group to the side watched as he led her to one of the aisles.

About five minutes later, they came out with the girl happily cuddling the doll to her chest with both hands, and Yugi guided her to the counter with a single hand on her shoulder. The girl placed the doll on the counter and carefully pulled her money out of the white purse. Carefully counting it out, the group watched her face fall when Solomon gently told her she didn't have enough. Yugi saw her teary eyes and trembling lips, and told her with a gentle, loving smile, "Why don't we count it again, hm?" When the girl looked up at him, trust and hope shining in her eyes, Yugi's heart melted, and as he carefully helped her count her money, he surreptitiously slipped a couple of bills into the pile of uncounted money. Ryou and Malik barely held back an 'aw', while the others felt their hearts soften when Solomon announced that he must have miscounted, she did have enough. The little girl squealed and hugged Yugi before being handed the change, and stuffing it in her purse, grabbing the little doll and hugging it to her chest as she bounced up and down.

"Is your mom or someone coming to pick you up, sweetheart?" Yugi asked gently. The girl glanced outside and nodded, pointing to a woman who looked like an older version of the girl. Yugi walked her to the door and watched as she excitedly showed the doll to the woman, who took her hand and started walking away with a smile, before walking back to the counter and helping Solomon with a few of the last customers. When the last customer walked out the door, Yugi went around the store to take inventory, and then went into the back to get the merchandise to restock the shelves. About an hour later, Solomon told Yugi that he could go, seeing as Solomon could handle the small amount of customers that might show up later. Yugi made sure that Solomon would call him if he was needed before making his way to his friends.

"Sorry. You guys must have been bored, right?" Yugi asked with a small, tired smile as he sat on a stool next to Yami. "Not at all." Yami replied. The others nodded, and Ryou assured Yugi, "It was interesting, watching you and your grandfather take care of the customers. You treated them all like close friends." Yugi gave Ryou a broad smile and replied, "That's because they are. When someone buys something from here, they're supporting my grandpa's store. Even if they only look around, they might come back, or tell someone about it, or someone might notice they came in, and decide they might want to take a look. So, as soon as someone walks through that door, they become a helpful part of this store, and thus a treasured friend."

Solomon smiled proudly at Yugi, whom took no notice, busy fending off Jou's playfully tearful bear hug. The other teens and twenty-something's smiled at the scene, and Ryou then pried the blond off the smaller male with a grin. "So, when do you close, Yugi?" Malik asked from his seat perched on Marik's lap. The amethyst eyed boy opened his mouth to answer, but his grandfather beat him to it. "In an hour, but I highly doubt anyone else will be in. Dinner's usually around this time, after all. And if they do, I can handle it. So you boys can go and do whatever it is young men do. Just don't get in trouble, and Yugi, be home by eleven, alright?" When Yugi looked fit to protest, Solomon looked at Jou, who nodded and proceeded to drag the tri-color haired teen out the door, the rest of their group following with smiles and waves to the elder Mutou.

~YxY~YxY~


Important Note: So. I know it's short, but… yeah. Writer's block has kicked my ass. I know where I want to end up with this story, but at this point in time, I'm stuck between point B (which is where we are: Yugi noticing that he's starting to crush on Yami), and point Z (The End). I will not be abandoning this story! I repeat: This story will not be abandoned, nor will it be adopted out. So. This is where you come in, my lovelies!

If there is something you want to see happen in this fic, I will try my absolute best to work it in.

There are a few things you have to keep in mind. 1). The pairings are already decided, so yeah.

2). There are a few plot points that I have in mind, which I will be keeping. *cough*Shu&Anzu*cough*

3). There is a timeline. Currently, it's about June/July-ish in the story, and I planned to end this at or a little after the showing in December. So ya'll have roughly 6 months to have them do whatever.

4). Ya'll have roughly 6 months to fill, as stated above, so I'd really like a lot of reviewers to suggest things.

5). Because I'm letting you choose stuff, though, and because I don't know how many suggestions I'll get (if any), I might not be able to do your suggestion right away, or at all. In that case, I really hope you won't get offended, as I'll try my best to fit things in.

6). You may give multiple suggestions of things you want to see. I'm thinking, at least, until I know how many suggestions I'll get, a maximum of… oh, 5 things?

So, that's that. I hope you'll forgive me for not writing much this chapter, and for taking so long to post. But I've gotten stuck on this story. Some people who follow me, and not just this story, might notice that I've put up a few one-shots since my last update, but they've been in different fandoms. So it's not just that I don't like this story! This is my baby. It was my first multi-chap story, and something that I really wanted/want to finish. I've just been stuck.